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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Signs of Genius: Arcane Knowledge

Ainan Celeste Cawley is but six years old, but he knows things most people never will. He also asks things no-one thought to ask but that is for another post.

A week ago, on the 27th of September, he said to me, all of a sudden, as he tends to: "Apart from Promethium, Thulium is the rarest Lanthanide."

Now, I don't know about you - but I didn't know that - and I studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge (incidentally, a dull place).

He went on to point out: "You know, you can find Technetium in Uranium and Thorium ores."

Two days before that he had disclosed: "You know, Uranium is always found impure in nature."

I have chosen these three sound bites from Ainan's general talk to illustrate a point. A child who is a genius will often show a very refined knowledge of their areas of interest - delving deeper, and learning more than others ever would. At least, that is what I generalize from Ainan's example. He is able to see relationships between elements and chemicals that others cannot - adults or otherwise - because they have not looked closely enough at the subject and do not even begin to have the requisite background. Furthermore, they may not be able to link knowledge in the way that Ainan does - finding relationships where none had been pointed out to him.

There is another thing which Ainan does: he finds possible applications for what he knows. For instance, two weeks ago, on the 22nd of September, 2006, he said: "The reaction between potassium permanganate and glycerine is so exothermic that it is hot enough to ignite a thermite reaction." Now, I don't know enough chemistry to comment on this remark of his, but the intent is clear: to apply knowledge to the real world, to achieve an end. This is a kind of genius that goes beyond the possession of knowledge, to the creation of an effect in the world.

It is too early to say what Ainan might do in the future - but there is a definite promise there, that it will be interesting - if he is afforded the right opportunities for development and employment. That, I suppose, is my job, as a father.

As always I welcome comments and thoughts from you, my readers. Thanks.

(For more posts on Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, six, and his gifted brothers, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html )

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:54 PM 

36 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol, your son talks like my daughter does! People would always be impressed by this cute little four year old coming out with huge scientific words - but I don't think children know certain words are "too hard for children" unless we actually tell them.

Although I must admit, big words don't mean comprehension necessarily. When my daughter was 5 she learned the hard way that there were plenty of children who could rattle off big dinosaur names, but none who could have a real discussion with her about the dinosaurs themselves. Even those who were touted as "dinosaur experts" were really only interested in roaring loudly. She never did find another child who could debate the evolution of dinosaurs into birds, for example, and she even flummoxed a paleontologist with some of her theories which turned out to be true. Perhaps this is why she stopped being interested in the study in the end.

Sarah

3:40 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

There is a difference between the use of the word and its understanding, yes. It is clear that my son understands the words he uses because he reasons with them, solves problems with them, thinks of new science with them. He is not one to parrot others, but is, instead, one to investigate phenomenon, ponder them and come to new conclusions about them.

A prodigy is not one who shows a little interest in a subject, with a smattering of big words, but one whose mind operates at an adult level in an adult domain.

My son chooses conceptual domains that demand a lot of insight and understanding of concept, not just informational domains that just require memorization. I don't post much about what he says for two reasons: one a need to preserve his intellectual privacy. Two, his thought is so technical it might not interest people outside of his subjects.

It is a pity, however, that your daughter lost interest in dinosaurs, for perhaps it could have led to a broader interest in science. As I have advised on other posts, however, it is the child who leads the situation. If the interest is deep, the child will follow it. If it is not, the child won't.

Incidentally, we met Professor Jack Horner, the dinosaur expert for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park films based on Michael Crichton's books. He was giving a lecture at the Singapore Science Centre on whether Jurassic Park would ever be real. His answer? No.

Your daughter sounds a bright kid: did she go on to develop another interest?

My son Ainan learnt to play the piano and began composing music, a year ago, but became tired of the lessons: perhaps the style of tuition didn't suit him, so he stopped. It is a pity, too, for his music was good. He has yet to resume.

Best wishes to you and your daughter.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Amiene Rev said...

mr. valentine, i agree with you. i have seen many failed parent. i should hate those parent, but i cannot.

they are failed parent, since they didnt know how to discover the talent of their own generations.

a gifted children should have guide. since if not, that children will lost. too many ignorant (those are actually gifted), since the parent didn't work hard for it.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Amiene Rev, it is hard to be a parent - and harder still to be the parent of a gifted child.

The demands a gifted child make on the parent may be beyond the parent to meet. This is not necessarily the parents' fault. For instance, the parents may not have an education, at all - but their child might be a scientist. How are such parents to help their child directly? They cannot. Yet, they could, if they were wise, try to find someone else who could.

In this way, no parent needs to fail, even if they themselves are unable to help their child. There is always a way.

Best wishes

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wondering if your son has gone back to his music at all. My son (who is gifted, but not prodigally so) taught himself to read music and play the piano at 5 1/2. (I helped by showing him how the system of notation worked, but then he insisted on doing it himself.) He made rapid progress for 6 months or so, then quit for a while when the music became too difficult for his technical ability. He took it back up again about a year later, and this pattern continued in fits and starts throughout his young years. He is now a music minor in college (computer science major) and I always said he would have been a better pianist if he had spent more hours at the keyboard (not the computer one!) But he enjoys music very much, does some composing/arranging, has perfect pitch, and will no doubt continue this avocation while making a nice living from his CS abilities.

His older sister always found it annoying that he played better than she did, even though she practiced faithfully and did not take a year off here and there.

All the best to you and your amazing children!

8:34 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for sharing about your gifted son.

It does sound like he is a boy of two passions...and so they have competed for his attention. You never know where his ability in music might take him: he has a good grounding, he might yet make something of it, besides his personal pleasure in it.

Ainan too made rapid progress with the piano and showed aptitude for it - but he grew tired, I think, of the lesson style and didn't want to do it anymore. Perhaps a different approach would reawaken his interest. (The teacher was a good one - but perhaps not a good match for Ainan's style). There are signs of nostalgia for the piano, since he has occasionally tinkled alone on it, reminiscently. He may yet take it up again. I hope so. It is a beautiful thing to be able to do - and a good life should have as much beauty in it as possible.

On the other hand, it is really good news that your son has another skill that is so in demand and so marketable. Not for him the poverty of many a musician, I think - and that is something worth avoiding. I think it is going to work out well for him: he has a passion that pays and a passion that is simply pleasurable. That sounds like the makings of a good life to me.

Best wishes to you and to him.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Chin said...

Nice to read about your gifted son. I have 2 sons at 6+ and 4+ who show some how special too. The 4+ start talking at 3 months. At born, too much crying until i start reading book, he will stop. Now, he can know many many kind of animal scientific name. Recently, we visit singapore zoo, he know more than 90% of the animal inside, not only name and scientific name but he told you the kg, the height, the foods they eat and even they are from where... He (both) ask to stop from kindergarten now. I think he might be gifted. He start reading > 50 pages story book at the age before 2years old at his own afford, without guide. Start reading encyclopedia and scientific book at the age about 3 and will choose book on his own from bookshop.
But, in Malaysia, we hardly find source and support and sharing for this kind of child. So, is confuse to continue him at normal school.

3:45 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Our children are in normal schools, too...except that Ainan is also in Singapore Polytechnic. The school system, generally, does NOT cope well with gifted children. It is a problem everywhere.

He sounds gifted to me. Have fun with raising him...and let him enjoy himself, too.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Richie said...

Seems like a lot of gifted children aren't getting the support they need, yet with contact through the net, my guess is that these kids will be a lot less lonely than gifted kids have historically been.

My understanding of the path of the gifted child is very limited, but its wonderful to see the possibility of their being able to make friends over the net and to share their experiences, especially when it comes to sharing their thoughts and ideas with each other.

It will be nice when they start forums of their own, but in the meantime, don't you think a thorough analysis of how gifts are incubated, nurtured and developed is in order?

I can't help feeling that everyone could be born gifted if only we knew how to set the stage and then bring out those gifts in our offspring once they're born....

10:39 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The nature-nurture question is a very old one - but there are some answers. Much of IQ for instance is definitely inherited: the correlation of the parents' iqs and the childrens' iqs when they read adulthood is about .8 - which is very high.

Given this and the observation that gifted children tend to show precocity, I would say that it is unlikely that all children could be nurtured to show gift. However, that does not change the fact that education could be improved for all, not just the gifted.

You are right about the internet allowing people to connect who would never otherwise have been able to. It will tend to make all people less isolated, not just the gifted.

Thank you for your comment.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi my son is 5 but has the interlligence of a university professor.he is a computer genius and does a lot of achetectural designs that am very confused,he teaches his 3year old sister and me as well.am very well educated but l cant understand him or no who he is.sometimes am very confused and dont no how to deal with his intellectual abilities.l dont want the press involvement.can you explain how l can deal with him?yhanks

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Dean said...

Hello, to mr.valentine and other people who commented. May I know how your prodigy children get their information? Do you leave books lying around or have your wives read/researched when they were pregnant? How did they develop their interest?

I am just curious. I am only 18 so I have no children haha.

11:07 PM  
Blogger azimah said...

huh...very very genuis

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, the information comes from exposure guided by the "gifted" parents. A parent who says he learned it all on his own, is like a thin person that said - "of course I eat." Exposure to information by a parent to a child is very relative. The gifted child's parent may claim little involvement, but then how do you difine little. As a thin person, I say I eat - but, then when I see how much the obese person eats, I realized it is all relative.

I find giftedness to be a truly golden opportunity for me and others to market products to parents who want so desperately for their kids to be like yours.

Your son and others have high IQ, what are their EQ (emotional) and FQ (financial)?

Will he be a leader one day or a follower? Will he be poor or rich? Will he be working for someone with less IQ but higher FQ?

Think about the marathon of life and make sure he has the endurance and discipline to control his power.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Obviously, you have never parented a kid like Ainan. The example above was completely the product of Ainan thinking on his own, working on his own with NO INPUT from us at all. I wouldn't have said he did it himself unless he had. Your assumption is rather off the mark.

As for selling products to "make gifted children"...there is NO SUCH PRODUCT. I believe that the products people like you sell are exploiting a desire in people to have a gifted child, unfairly, since the product cannot deliver that. Only a lucky mix of genes will do that for the children...and it is a bit late once they are out in the world.

You are right, though, to ask about EQ and FQ...these qualities are very important and must be present for the greatest success to occur.

Thanks for your comment.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey to the first comment...Lol...I remember when I was five and I loved dinasours...I told my mom fact after fact about how T-rexs actually couldn't run that fast. I also had many therories(Excuse my spelling...I'm horrible at it)(Dyslexia) about how the dinasours died...And now I have therories about time and space. I also love to think about black holes and say to myself..."If black holes would disinergrate us if we went through them...Then couldn't we just create a greater force acting opposite of the force pulling us apart?" And I just love to figure out shortcuts in math...(Really easy to do with scientific Notation)...Sorry people I just love to talk(Even if it's just typing)I could go on and on...(That's why I'm dyslexic...my brain just has to much to say...and the reason I have ADD and ADHD...)...ok now I'm done...

8:59 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the reminiscences re. your love of dinosaurs as a kid.

I wouldn't worry about the dyslexia, there are quite a few very successful/famous people with it.

Best wishes

10:32 AM  
Blogger CantervilleGhost said...

Valentine, I came across your site while researching secondary education in Singapore.
I see that you mention the importance of EQ in the above discussion.
I had concern for your child, if you'll forgive me saying so, as it is a little intrusive.
The reason being that I have known three individuals regarded as child prodigies. One of them went to Oxford years early, she should have had a bright future ahead of her, but she now suffers from debilitating substance misuse, though I have not had the chance to talk to her about her situation since she left for University. One was the youngest person (at the time) to sail across the atlantic by himself. He now suffers from mental health problems which he attributes to an abnormal childhood. The third was a don at Oxford, highly successful in his way, but he obviously found it extremely hard to relate to people, finding out about the interests of people he would be meeting in advance, reading everything he could find about said interests and then alienating the person by bombarding them with related facts upon introduction.
I do not blame the parents in any of these cases, it is not difficult to spot a rationale when saying that prodigious children may be prone to mental health problems and difficulties in socialisation.
Do you think these anecdotes may be part of an actual and demonstrable susceptibility of the gifted? What might parents do if this were the case to protect the development of the child?

3:03 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

The answer to the potential pitfalls of prodigiousness is simple: socialization. If the children have the opportunity for good socialization as they grow up, I don't think that any of the problems you mention, will develop. To that end, my children spend more time socializing than they do doing anything else. I think this is healthy. It means they will grow up able to relate to the world...as well as whatever they happen to be interested in/adept at. There are two sides to success...the special talent, and the social skills to connect that talent to the wider world.

Thank you for your concern, but Ainan is doing very well socially and academically.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Raymond said...

My son is only 10 weeks old, it seems like he is starting to imitate sounds, he is always checking out his surroundings, and he is fix to the television when its one. I swear he wont go to bed unless he falls asleep watching TV. Would your son do thing like this when he was that young. How young was he when you started to realize the he was more intelligent then normal kids and not just ahead of the curve.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Dear Raymond,

Each child is different, so there are no rules. In the case of Ainan (and our other children) there were early signs of intelligence. Some of them were uncanny. So, I would be on the look out for anything which suggests inner thought of his own. You can see a lot from his behaviour. Even when he cries can be a sign of thought. For instance, when Ainan was two months old, he would not let himself be taken out of the house, as the clock approached 7 pm. Why not, we wondered? Well, because his mother returned at 7 pm from work every evening...so he was using the clock to track his mother! The sign of it was that he would allow himself to be taken from the house at any other time...as long as it wasn't too close to 7 pm. Once that neared, he would not budge.

So, I would suggest careful observation of his behaviour. That will give you insight into his thoughts.

Certainly, our sons gave early signs of speech - Ainan in particular.

Good luck on raising your child.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

If I may offer (as a gifted adult), sometimes it is not just socialization that is key. I went to normal school, had a few friends, but still have much trouble relating. The difference between someone with an IQ of 180 and an IQ of 100 is the SAME as the difference between someone with an IQ of 100 and an IQ of 20!

Gifted people are DIFFERENT--and the higher the IQ, the more difference there is. We feel, sense, communicate, think differently (not just "more" but DIFFERENTLY). It is hard for a bird to relate to a fish--NOT that birds are morally superior to fish, or fish to birds. They are just VERY different. Sometimes you can get a flying fish or an aquatic bird, but mostly they are just too different to understand each other well.

The Oxford don who studied everything the other person was interested in is an excellent example--I have done similar things. We are INTERESTED, we want to bond, talk, theorize and don't care if it is not something we had not studied before. Sometimes we are just as happy to delve into someone else's interest (because it is still learning, still tickling the brain). We do not realize that that is an affront to others because to us it would be a compliment.

Now, should we have learned this in our socialization? How? No one says "I am choosing not to bond with you because your studying of my hobby weirded me out. May I suggest a gentler approach next time?". NO! People are not instructive by nature--they will just avoid you leaving you unsure of the problem. Merely being in many situations is not enough without explanation.

Sometimes it is not any specific thing that will cause a problem, but just the WAY we are. Too big of words, too quick of thought, too different of movement.

I would offer that along with socialization, consider teaching understanding. With children as bright as yours, they might have problems that are unique, questions that the normal do not encounter. Ever. And hanging around people will not explain to them why they are the way they are. If a horse hung around nothing but geese all its life, that would not explain to the horse why he cannot fly, why he does not like to swim, why he can run so much faster. It is not that your children are just regular people with the volume turned up...they are very well an entirely different song.

Teach them about overexcitabilities, how they are a manifestation of their incredible nervous systems and, like fire or water, have to be managed well, not feared or allowed to have unfettered reign. The girl who has turned to drugs might have used them to try to dull what she thought was a problem. Indeed, many behaviors that would be considered pathological in the normal population are actually normal behaviors in the gifted.

Teach them that other people think more slowly and that that is NOT a sign of faulty character--that person has different strengths. Teach them that moral worth is NOT pinged on intellectual ability. Teach them to be humble and gracious, but also patient and caring. Teach them that their experiences will be different, and that is ok. Teach them that sometimes they will just not quite fit in..not because they are wrong for the situation, but because the situation is wrong for them. If more gifted kids knew that, there would be a lot fewer maladaptive behaviors.

Personality too has a play: most highly gifted people are introverts.

I do not mean to imply that you are not doing a good job...quite the opposite. I am just offering that, from the viewpoint of a gifted adult who WAS "socialized" in public school, sports, etc, that did NOT ensure adaption to normal population, and in fact hindered it. Before I knew my strengths, I was made painfully aware by the children of my differences.

I hope this helps. I know this entry was many years ago, but I thought I might comment in case others come by and read.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your considered comment. It is a help.

In socializing my children, I am giving the opportunity to learn what they can from the situation. I know it cannot erase their "difference" but it is my hope that it will teach them how to manage the situation. Yet, you make a fine point: without instructive feedback - which you are right, no-one ever gives - then learning is limited. We are left to puzzle out what is going wrong and our own answers may not reflect reality at all.

Thank you for being "instructive" and allowing me to understand the limits of socialization for my children. I was hoping to provide for them a better social situation than the one I grew up with. Perhaps, however, it won't help as much as I had hoped. Oh well.

Best wishes to you.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Please feel free to comment elsewhere, Stephanie, should you feel a wish to. I enjoyed your viewpoint.

Thanks.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous "Vector calculus and a cup of Joe, and I'm good to go!" said...

As I was reading through the recent posts I came across the comments regarding the apparent prevalency of mental health issues amongst the "gifted" population. This is definitely something to look out for, although in some cases there are limited solutions for the parents.

My daughter is 14 months old and appears to be demonstrating many of the traits my parents say I exhibited, such as early reading, problem solving and puzzle decoding, exceptional memory, etc. She's only 14 months old, so it's not like she's rattling off simple solutions to derivatives and names of dinosaurs, but the word recognition thing is pretty amazing to observe, and she's clearly different than her peers.

One thing I'd like to comment on is that there are other non-academic avenues for people to pursue their dreams. My father, who is an ivy-leaguer Ph.D, always seemed to push academics. Ultimately, I happened to like academics, but this was unrelated to my father's guidance.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You raise a serious issue. I think if a gifted person has mental health issues they should be VERY wary of being "treated" by modern drugs, electroshock, etc...all of these things are hugely and PERMANENTLY brain damaging. A person's brain is never the same after being "treated" by the lunacies of modern psychiatry. Those who extoll psychiatry know nothing about it or what it does or the harm it causes. Be very cautious with respect to the whole practice of modern psychiatry if you value yourself or your loved ones.

Re. non-academic pursuits. Yes, you are quite right. There are many non-academic avenutes which can lead to fulfilment, indeed, this is worthy of a post. The world is a lot broader than academia.

Good luck on raising your gifted daughter.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Cawley, I found your blog while I was searching for advice on being gifted. I am not nearly as gifted as your children, but I am two grade levels above my classmates in my areas of knowledge. I need advice.

I am a thirteen year old girl in a traditional rural community. My school doesn't have a gifted program because it causes resentment in our old-fashioned community. People got jealous of other kids who were in the program and therefore it was discontinued.

To go into Kindergarten, you have to be five years old by a certain date. I missed that cutoff by two months so I had to wait another year before I could go to school. Sometimes I wish I hadn't missed the cutoff because then I wouldn't have to deal with this.

In the opinion of my Kindergarten teacher (and many others), I could have easily skipped into the first grade. My mother did not want to do this because it would cause feelings of resentment and "socially warp" me for life. She had no idea.

Now I am in grade seven and miserable. Because our school is so small, we often combine our grades. I am in a grade seven and eight class. We are currently doing all grade eight work (except in our math classes, which are separate) and I find it far too easy. I am always ahead and I am always the first person done my work so I usually end up reading while I wait for everyone else to finish. It is too late to skip me up to grade eight because it would be difficult to keep up with the math they are currently doing.

There is no question of moving to a new community and it is highly unlikely the school will form a gifted program again. I need your advice for how to deal with my 'giftedness.' The community I live in is deeply religious and I am atheist, therefore I am even more of an outcast. I have many friends, but I feel that none of them truly understand me. Please, any advice at all would be an enormous help.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for sharing your situation.

It is a pity that your community has decided to hold back all gifted children because of the jealousy of others. Those jealous people are impairing your community in ways they cannot even understand. It is a self-inflicted wound by the community, on the community.


Given that your area is not going to do anything for gifted people, you are going to have to do something for yourself. This means finding opportunities, outside school, to stimulate yourself and nurture your interests. This is what we had to do for Ainan when he was in Singapore, since they wouldn't let him homeschool. We studied science at home. So, is it possible for you to identify what you like doing and follow that at home, at your own level and pace: even doing this with one interest, could create a sense of freedom for you. Perhaps there are types of books you might like to read; stories to write; musical instruments to play; art to draw...whatever it is that interests you, you could pursue it at home. Make time for yourself and your growth.

Then again, there is the internet. You could find people who were brighter to correspond with. There are online communities for gifted people...you could join these. These will not only provide the chance to write of your experiences, but perhaps to pick up advice from others who have been through the same.

Re. finishing the work and reading. Yes. I did that too, in school...in fact, after a while, the teacher would ask me to pick out a book from the library to do so!

You must remember: don't sacrifice yourself to the values of your community. When you are an adult, you will be able to choose your own community and your own life. Hold onto your sense of self and purpose until then.

Good luck...be patient with others. They cannot understand you, because they are not complex enough to do so. So forgive them, and don't expect understanding from them. Just focus on private development of yourself.

Best wishes.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Kay said...

Hello, I am fourteen and believe that I am a prodigy child -or something of a similar manner. Since I was 4 I have always been able to read literature that is generally more difficult to comprehend for someone of my age group. Not only that but I excel in whatever activity I thrust myself into (for example: art, writing, languages, music, etc...) But the problem I'm facing is my lack of passion for doing pretty much anything anymore. I am antisocial and would rather stay holed up in my room then talk to someone because I feel that I cannot connect with anyone because of my "gift". I pretend like I'm normal in front of my parents and sometimes, when I slip up, they think that I'm strange or have mental issues and should go to a therapist to have it resolved.
So basically what I'm trying to say is, how do I find people like myself or at least adults that will accept that my "strange" behavior is because I think differently from other people rather than because I'm insane?

2:18 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Kay,

I am sorry to hear that you are having difficulty being understood and accepted for yourself. It seems that the people around you are very conformist in their requirements and don't accept deviation. You can't change them. However, perhaps you could ask them to read a book on giftedness (look for one that talks of the characteristics of the gifted) and tell them that it is an interesting read and see what they think (read it yourself first).

Rather than changing the people you know, you should try perhaps to find new people. Are there any gifted associations where you are? Have you had your IQ tested? If so, and it is high enough, you could join a high iq society and meet other gifted youngsters.

It seems the problem here is that the people near you are not familiar with or accepting of creativity. Maybe you can pick a creative activity you enjoy and find a club to join that would let you meet other creative people.

One problem is one you have created for yourself: you have created a pretend persona for your parents which you think they will accept, but you have hidden your real self. This creates a danger for you. You see, if you show your real self, now - they might think that something is wrong with you - when, in fact, you are just finally showing your real self. They won't believe that the real you is the real you...and that is very dangerous. In the worst scenarios you might be forced into psychiatric treatment, by parents who just don't understand you. Please avoid this fate. It is a terrible one and very damaging.

Let me know how you get on.

Perhaps you can talk to your parents about feeling you have pretend and hide yourself from them...though again this could be dangerous if they are narrow minded and psychologically ignorant (which could be the case from what you say).

Good luck.

3:03 PM  
Blogger madeline said...

Dear mr Cawley, you are very very blessed and so it is for your children too for having a very concerned farther. I look up to you as a father who's trying your best to give the best to your children.
I am a mother to a 2 and half year old daughter. She started reading at 1 year old, knows all the planets at 1 year old and the list goes on. Her Stanford Binet test at 2 years reveal level 4 to 5 out of 6 max. I will really appreciate your advice on how to raise this kind of child. My concern is if international school a better option than Malaysian curriculum . Homeschooling is not possible for me since I am working.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Firstly, Madeline, congratulations on having such a wonderfully gifted child.

There are many years and many challenges ahead, so comprehensive advice would be simply impossible to give, in the space of a blog, however, one thing is most important: follow your child's interests - and not your own. Too many parents impose their wishes for an ideal life on their child, without consulting what the child wants and the child is interested in. Don't do that. Find out what your child likes and make opportunities for her to be exposed to that area, as much as she wants to be. That will lead to a happy child and a good outcome.

International schools are two things: more expensive than local schools, but also, usually, more open to creativity. So if you want a more open education for your child, consider them - if you can afford them.

Even if you can't afford them, simply being guided by your child's own personal interests will go a long away to making her childhood a happy and successful one.

Good luck.

10:03 PM  
Blogger chinog_collignon said...

It amuses me to see so many people claiming to have reared gifted children or having been born "gifted" themselves.

Considering the high correlation between parent-offspring IQ, and seeing how many people in this particular thread don't know how to structure a sentence or spell the simplest of words, I have but to doubt these numerous genius claims.

LOL at the person above who allegedly intimidated all of his/her acquaintances with "big words" during childhood, yet during adulthood, managed to write "adaption".

This all reinforces the well-known fact that the internet is serious business.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi Chinog,

You are right to note that the English in some comments can be irregular. However, you are overlooking one influence: many respondents are not English native speakers: it may be their second or third language, or they may not have been educated in English at all. So, one has to be cautious in drawing absolute conclusions about intelligence etc. without further information.


Thanks for your thoughts.

3:57 PM  
Blogger jljeni said...

Hello, I am a parent of a 9 year old gifted child, but I am limited because I am not gifted. I home school him, but through a charter school. I have been in so many situations where he wants to do something amazing but he is limited by me. For example he designed model of a space probe to explore Eurasia. He wanted to do this for the science fair but I have no understanding of electronics. We ended up doing crystal growth which bored him to death. Do you have any recommendations for me on how to help him get a mentor. Also to help get his charter school to recognize him as gifted. He is two years ahead but could be more. They will not let him go further, so I have bought him physics and algebra books to accelerate him further. He studies and understands these on his own without any instruction. He also studies out of a college Earth Science book. I know this is nothing compared to your son, but I was looking for some advise on how to advocate for him. Thank you so much.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you Jljeni, for your comment.

First, I will say this: it can be hard being the parent of a gifted child, because it comes with a great responsibility - that of facilitating the growth of the child. This can be tricky, depending on the available circumstances.

I was a gifted child. For me, my parents put me in a very competitive school. This provided me with opportunities to learn, but not at the level I could have done. However, it also put me into a very unpleasant social situation, which was not ideal - there was a lot of jealousy of the best students. So, one question I would like to ask is: how is your son accepted at school, as a gifted child? Is he being bullied? If so, is he coping? That, for me is the first issue to address...to prevent the child from being damaged by his or her social situation.

The second thing that was a great help to me was the library. I educated myself on so many things, just by using the resources of a good library. If you have a good library within travel distance of you, it can be a great help to any gifted child.

I would ask your son what he wishes to learn and get for him relevant books in those areas. From what you say, he will teach himself.

Then, I would ask around among the teachers you know (you should know some), for recommendations of other teachers, in his areas of interest, for people who might volunteer to mentor him, once they understand that he is gifted.

If you don't know teachers directly, ask your friends if they could recommend one, and so on. I am suggesting this, because it looks like the teachers in his own school might not be open to this.

If you have any further questions, please just ask.

Good luck.

6:31 AM  

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